The NHS is urging the public not to let fears of catching coronavirus or burdening the health service deter them from getting medical treatment.
People should make use of urgent and emergency services for strokes, heart attacks and other serious conditions, as well as cancer, maternity and mental health services, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has warned.
It comes after data published by Public Health England suggests that A&E attendances this month are around 50 per cent lower than last April.
Leading clinicians, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and charities such as the British Heart Foundation, are concerned people are risking their long-term health by delaying seeking treatment.
A new public information campaign will be rolled out next week to persuade people to contact their GP or the 111 service if they have urgent care needs – or 999 in emergencies – and to attend hospital if they are told they should.
Professor Stephen Powis, the national medical director of NHS England, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The NHS is still there for you if you have another condition.
“Our concern is that people will be coming to harm if they don’t attend hospital.
“We worry that people are not accessing healthcare because they feel it’s busy and don’t want to bother the health service or because they fear there may be coronavirus in the health service.
“It is safe to come to hospital, a general practice or a pharmacy. It is important that you do what you’ve always done.”